Sunday, August 31, 2014

The High Road - Chapter Fifteen

Bert Carson      &    Noah Charif
Noah and I just finished some "holiday work" and wrote and recorded Chapter Fifteen for your entertainment.

Enjoy it and have a safe, fun holiday.

Remember, if you are just joining us, or if you've missed one of the chapters, they are all here.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The High Road Chapter 14

Here is Chapter Fourteen of The High Road, a novel co-written by Bert Carson and Noah Charif.

If you've missed a chapter or if you are just joining us, all of the chapters are here.

Thanks for joining us.  We hope you enjoy the rolling adventure.

All comments are appreciated
Bert and Noah

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dates To Remember

by Bert Carson
February 7, 1982 is not a date I remember, though I do remember what I did on that date - I ran my first marathon.  I wasn't in nearly good enough shape for it, crossing the finish line a little over four hours after I started.

Over the next few years, I ran eight other marathons, with a best time of three hours and thirty-four minutes.   Now, at age 71 (72 in a couple of weeks), I'm in better condition than I was for any of the marathons, half-marathons, ultra marathons, and 10K's that I've run.

I didn't say I am faster, though I think I could be.  I said I'm in better condition.  There are two reasons for that.  First, May 12, 2014 I made a commitment not to miss a scheduled running day for the rest of the year - by the way, my running schedule is simple - run three straight days, take one day off, repeat, etc., etc.

The second reason brings me to the title of this blog - Dates to Remember.   Before I share the dates and the events that transpired on those dates, let me share a quote, which you are probably familiar with, from Eubie Brown:  "If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of my self."  And my thought on Eubie's words - IT IS NEVER TOO LATE.

The dates are  March 25, 2013, the day I gave up sugar and thirteen months later, April 18, 2014, the day I gave up caffeine.

So, running six out of every seven days, has put me in the best physical condition of my life.  Giving up sugar made me 20+ pounds lighter and sounded the death knell for a 45 year chronic sinus condition.  Giving up caffeine ensured that my energy is always at a high level without peaks and valleys, and of more importance on many previous occasions, I no longer wonder what I'll do if I receive an emergency call of nature because that is no longer a possibility.

So there they are, three dates that moved me around the corner:  March 25, 2013, April 18, 2014, and May 12, 2014.  Days like any other, until I made three radical commitments and didn't waiver in implementing them.  

What dates do you remember?

Friday, August 22, 2014

The High Road - Chapter 13

by Bert Carson

Here's Chapter 13 of The High Road.

Remember, if you've missed a chapter or if you're just joining the trip,  all of the chapters are here.

Enjoy the ride with John, Bird, and JoJo.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Narrative License

by Bert Carson,
My Friend Ted The Gryphon
You've heard of Poetic License, however, you may not know that Wikipedia has lumped poetic license with a number of other "licenses" and arrived at this definition:

Artistic License, also known as dramatic license, historical license, poetic license, narrative license, or simply license, is a colloquial term, sometimes euphemism, used to denote the distortion of fact, alteration of the conventions of grammar or language, or rewording of pre-existing text made by an artist to improve a piece of art.  

I have an issue with the word distortion.  Who can say where fact ends and distortion begins?  No one can, since distortion is simply one person's perception.  In other words, what you think is distortion might well be my fact (and there is a good chance that is the case).  Take this simple history of an actual creature for example:

The ancient Greeks described the creature, which they called a Griffin, as a mighty being with the body of a lion, the king of beasts, and the wings of an eagle, the king of birds.  Obviously some ancient Greek, or more likely, a large group of them, saw a Griffin, or a flock of them.  Face it,  who could make up something like that?

Thousands of years after the Greek sighting of Griffins, Charles Lutwidge Dogson, whose distorted name was Lewis G. Carroll, spied a mutated Griffin, which had the body of a lion and the head and wings of an eagle.  He called this mutation a Gryphon, and described it in his classic "non-fiction" work, Alice's Adventures In Wonderland.  

In 1948, the nuns who founded Gwynedd Mercy University (located in Bensalem, Pennsylvania, near Philadelphia) also saw a Gryphon and were so inspired they made him the mascot of the school.  The Gryphon commemorated in the statue at the left, appeared in Germany a number of years ago and seems to have adopted the country and all its citizens, hence the stature.

My friend Ted (see drawing above) is undoubtedly a descendant of the Dogson Gryphon.  I've known Ted for most of my 70+ years and know for a fact that he is undistorted, loyal, talented and very, very strong.

I cannot believe the ancient Greeks would distort anything and neither would Charles Lutwidge Dogson, mathematician and Anglican Deacon.  And who would accuse the Sisters of Mercy of Bensalem of distortion? Not to mention all of the citizens of Germany who sighted the creature?  And, if you require further proof of the undistorted existence of both Griffins and Gryphons, you have to look no further than me:  You know I live far above the possibility of distortion (by the way, that's Ted tattooed on my left arm).

So much for the distorted definition of license.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Meeting In Vicksburg

by Bert Carson
Bert - Christina - Caleb - Stephen
I've anticipated meetings before, and, to be honest, more often than not my expectations have crashed and burned in the reality of the experience.  However, on those few occasions when it went the other way - when reality exceeded expectation, spirits soared and hope was renewed.

The particular meeting that I'm about to tell you about has been anticipated for a very long time.  We (me, Christina, Caleb Pirtle, and Stephen Woodfin) have been internet friends for over three years.  We initially bonded with the mutual objective of discovering the secret of marketing our books.  As we hacked away at the Indie Writer Mystery of Mysteries, we became good friends - as good as you can be when digital contact is your only connection.

We found each other through Triberr.  Since those early days, we have corresponded regularly via email, joined up on weekly Google Hangouts, and Stephen and I are regular pen-and-ink pen pals, yet, we'd never met face-to-face, until last Friday.  It isn't that we didn't want to meet sooner, it just never quite worked out, distance and schedules being the major obstacles.

Stephen and Caleb live in Texas. Christina and I live in Alabama.  In addition to being writers, we each have "day jobs" that take a vast amount of our time, so until now we haven't been able to schedule a date that worked for each of us.  With a time and date locked in place, we settled on a place - Rusty's Restaurant in Vicksburg, Mississippi.

It's 340 miles from Huntsville, Alabama to Vicksburg, Mississippi.  Since Christina and I aren't morning people, we elected to travel to the rendezvous Thursday and spend the night in Vicksburg.   We arrived a bit before 5 PM.  By 5:30 we'd changed into running gear and were jogging in the Vicksburg National Cemetery, a Civil War Memorial of epic proportions, whose hills are about three time higher than any hill in Huntsville, Alabama.

We were scheduled to meet at 11 AM, so naturally we arrived at 10, strolled through town, then visited the Corp of Engineers Mississippi River exhibition which is located across the street from Rusty's.  At 10:45 we left the exhibition, stepping out into the glare of August sunlight.  As we paused at the curb, letting our eyes adjust to the light, a horn blew and the driver pointed out the window toward us,  as the passenger shouted, "It's them."  That was the beginning of the long-awaited meeting.  A little over six hours later the meeting adjourned until next we meet - and you can be sure that we will.

So, what did four writers, who had never met before, do for six hours?  We talked like twelve-year-old friends who have just shaken the confines of a long day at school.  We talked in Rusty's until they closed at 2.  Then we walked down the street to a coffee shop, got beverages, and sat outside talking until the sun peaked over the river and began falling toward Texas, blinding us in it's glare as it heated up the eastern side of Washington Street, which parallels the Mississippi River.  We surrendered our position but didn't give up the meeting.  We simply moved to the west side of the street, without losing our place in the conversation.

At that point, the meeting became mobile,  as we meandered up and down the street, pausing often to gaze in windows and stare at old buildings while speculating on both.  That's what writers do, you know?  Did we come any closer to solving the mystery of mysteries?  Only time will tell.  However, there is one thing I can tell you about the meeting, it was joyous occasion - one that I'm already looking forward to repeating.  


Friday, August 15, 2014

The High Road - Chapter 12

by Bert Carson
Bert Carson - Noah Charif - Adrienne Wall Photography

John and Bird began to explore "mind reading" and are surprised when Batman leads them to a discovery about their ability to communicate without speaking.

Click here to listen to episodes 1 - 11.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The High Road - Chapter 11

by Bert Carson
Bert Carson - Noah Charif - Photos Adrienne Wall

Bird, who has never, as far as he can remember, been out of Alabama, proves to be a worthy navigator and partner, as he, John, and JoJo take a detour toward Albuquerque.

If you've missed a chapter, or if you're just beginning the adventure, you can find all the episodes here.

Thanks for joining us for the ride.

Bert & Noah

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The High Road Chapter Ten

by Bert Carson
Bert Carson  -   Noah Charif  (Adrienne Wall Photography)
Back on the road with John, Bird, and JoJo, as they pick up a load in Oklahoma and begin heading south for El Paso.

As they travel they learn more about each other and the amazing connection they have.

All of the episodes are posted here for your convenience.

Friday, August 8, 2014

When Jeremy Plays

by Bert Carson
Jeremy Vosen
My friend, Merri, has mentioned her friend Jeremy a number of times in emails and letters.  Yesterday, she told me he was close to finishing his first YouTube video, an original composition called Moonlight Reflection.

This morning I found a link to the video in my in-basket.  The hauntingly beautiful work of this young master was a lovely way to begin the day.

Now I share Jeremy with you.  Enjoy

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Goodness Without A Motive

by Bert Carson
With all the "bad news" and just plain "meanness" the world is inundated with, take a few seconds for something refreshing.

Post by Marc Weinberg.

Note - more than a million people have liked this video.

Ralph, thanks for sending this.  You're the best my friend. 

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The High Road - Chapter Nine

by Bert Carson
After some down time, the High Road, a unique trucking adventure, co-written by me and writing partner, Noah Charif, is back.

In case you aren't following the adventures of John, a sixty year old Independent trucker, his dog JoJo, and Bird, a thirteen-year-old runaway turned stowaway, you can catch up with the story here.

If you are following the adventures of the unlikely trio, here's the latest installment:

Chapters 10 and 11 are scheduled to arrive at your loading dock very soon.

Thanks for joining us,

Bert and Noah

Monday, August 4, 2014

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Running With Daddy

by Bert Carson
Me & Daddy April 1944
Lessons that last are the lessons that are modeled, not the ones that spoken.  I know that today more powerfully than I've known it, which means, now, seventy years after that picture was snapped, I'm still getting a lot of the lessons my daddy modeled for me.

One of those lessons came to me just before midnight last night.  I was two and half miles into what ultimately became a seven and half mile run. I was running through downtown Huntsville, surrounded by the sounds of three live bands behind me and at least that many ahead of me when I heard the unmistakable sound of a Harley approaching from behind.  

As I ran, I snapped on my flashlight to mark my position.  The bike slowed and I glanced to my right to make sure the rider had noted my presence.  He turned toward me, waved his left hand, and above the noise of his unmuffled exhaust he shouted, "It is sure a great night night to be out."

I waved back, and shouted my agreement, though I knew from experience he couldn't hear me.  As I watched his taillights fade, I thought of motorcycles, and daddy, and then I thought of his first motorcycle and the day he got his second one.  Then I laughed out loud, to the delight of residents of the retirement home who were sitting on their front porch watching the night and listening to the garbled music.

A couple of years after my 1960 graduation from high school, I got the bug for a Harley.  Since I was living at home, the decision wasn't totally mine.  I knew what mother would say, so I went to daddy.  I explained that I wanted to trade my car, a 1954 metallic green Plymouth that I called Bullfrog, for a 1957 Harley Davidson Duo Glide that had just been traded in at the Harley shop in St. Augustine.

He thought about that for a few minutes and then began naming all the reasons that a motorcycle as my sole means of transportation wasn't practical.  I quickly agreed with every point he made because I had already thought of every one of them on my own.

When he finished, he asked, "And you still want one?"

"Yessir," was all I said.

He smiled and said, "That's what I figured.  Okay, I'll explain it your mother.  Go ahead and put the deal together."

Two days later, after the bike was delivered and Bullfrog was driven away, the two of us stood in the driveway admiring the bike for a long time.  Finally I said, "You want to take it for a ride?"

"No," he said, "I want to start with something a whole lot smaller than that."

I didn't get that when he said it, but over the course of the next few weeks I remembered his words and thought secretly, I probably should have started with something smaller

A month or so later, I came home and found daddy washing his new Harley 165.  As he lovingly cleaned the bike he explained that he had always wanted a motorcycle but his parents would not allow him to have one, and though he never forgot that, the time just hadn't been right for to get one... until now.

I circled the miniature motorcycle a couple of times, stopped and looked at him, then said, "It looks a little small for you."

He grinned and went back to washing the bike as he said, "It's small but it will do until I learn to ride."

He "learned" for the next year, riding that little machine everywhere, in all kind of weather, despite the fact that it handled like a brick and the only way he could get it to sixty was to flatten himself across the fuel tank. Even that wouldn't work if there was the slightest headwind.

Now I understand.  He didn't care about that.  He was learning to ride.  A year later, early on a Saturday morning, I heard daddy kick Putt-Putt, as I had come to call it, into life.  I ran from the house and caught him as he was strapping on his helmet.  "Wait for me," I shouted above the noise.  "I'll get dressed and go with you."

He shut the bike down, then smiling he said, "That's alright.  I have something to do.  You go back to bed and we'll ride this afternoon."

Back to bed sounded good, so I agreed.  Before the sound of the tiny motorcycle had totally faded, I was back in bed.  I had only been up a half hour or so when I heard a different sound from the driveway.  A deep-throated bass with long intervals between each cylinder firing.  I knew it was a big bike.  I also knew it wasn't stock.  And I knew it wasn't a Harley.

I ran outside and stopped in my tracks when I saw daddy sitting astride his new BSA.  Without shutting it off, he said, "Are you ready to go for a ride?"  

We left town on State Road 19 which passes through the Ocala National Forest.  As usual, I was in the lead.  At the beginning of a thirteen mile, absolutely straight stretch of road without a single house or side road, I glanced in my mirror and saw him take his hand off the handlebar and point straight ahead.  I twisted the throttle to the stop and watched the speedometer wind past a hundred miles per hour and finally peg out on the Harley emblem at the bottom-center.  I guessed that I was traveling somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred and five miles per hour.

I raised my hand to let him know that was as fast as I could go and then I glanced in my mirror and saw him approaching at a rate of speed I couldn't believe.  As he passed, he shifted from fourth to fifth, and the front wheel of his big English bike lifted a few inches off the ground.  I'm sure he was laughing but I couldn't hear it through the sound of the two engines.

Last night, I finally got the lesson he modeled so elegantly all those years ago.  Begin with the basics and stay with them until they are mastered them before you move on to all the bells and whistles.

Yep, last night was a good night to be out with daddy.